Herbed Fougasse: A French Flat Bread to Remember

We occasionally link to goods offered by vendors to help the reader find relevant products. Some of these may be affiliate based, meaning we earn small commissions (at no additional cost to you) if items are purchased. Here is more about what we do.

There’s a reason these photos are so bleh. Well, actually, there are two reasons, one of which is a little incriminating. So if I tell you the whole story, will you promise not to hold it against me?

Herbed Fougasse Bread

First, and this is just a fact we must learn to accept, much like regular exercise is a part of being healthy or you can’t eat an entire chocolate cake every night in good conscience.

Second, and here’s the part where I start to look bad: I may or may not have accidentally almost burned down my kitchen Saturday afternoon, during the last bits of natural light I had left trying to get this photographed.

Here’s what happened: That morning, the tart I was making overflowed in the oven and made quite a mess – a mess, which, after I pulled the tart out, I forgot about completely.

So a few hours later, when I turned the little temperature knob to preheat the oven again, ready to bake some bread dough, I had no (!) idea (!) that doing so would make the goopy mess burn and send clouds of dark smoke all over my kitchen, enough to set my heart racing, have me screaming things like “Is there a fire?” and “What do I do?”

There is some mercy here, as you can probably guess from the statements of maybe and almost above.

When I opened the smoking oven, there was no fire or serious damage – just A. LOT. OF. SMOKE. And all things considered, this was no catastrophe.

Things did smell a little, well, let’s just say s’mores sounded strangely fitting – but nothing was truly harmed.

And when all was said and done, fans set up to cool the kitchen and draw remaining smoke out, I still had to do something with the dough that had been rising.

Eventually I was able to bake it, and when it came out of the oven, golden and shimmering with crystals of sea salt, decorated with flecks of herbs, I knew I couldn’t very well wait until the next day to photograph it.

I had just had a near-death experience, and the hot fougasse dough smelled rich with rosemary and thyme, scents of healing and warmth. You understand, don’t you?

Fougasse is the French version of Italian focaccia, which is a savory flat bread I’ve always really enjoyed at those Macaroni Grill chain restaurants.

In fact, this fougasse tasted almost exactly like that bread, but with a different texture, less spongy and maybe more dense. Its slightly crisp shell gives way to soft, downy insides, and the herbs and toppings create incredible flavor.

What makes fougasse distinct is its shape, somewhat like a tree or a large leaf. Slits create a lattice effect in the appearance, which, I should add, is also very handy for tearing chunks off with your hands.

And, let’s just say, even near-fires aside, tearing fresh bread with your hands is always a good thing.

This recipe was slightly Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking.

The Art & Soul of Baking available on Amazon

The Recipe

Herbed Fougasse Bread
Herbed Fougasse Bread
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
10 people 35 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 hours
Servings Prep Time
10 people 35 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 hours
Herbed Fougasse Bread
Herbed Fougasse Bread
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
10 people 35 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 hours
Servings Prep Time
10 people 35 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 hours
Biga Preferment:
  • 1/2 cup warm water 4 ounces, 110-115°F
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast or generous 1/8 tspn instant yeast
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour 4 1/2 ounces
  • 1/2 cup warm water 4 ounces, 110-115°F
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast or generous 1/4 tspn instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 ounce
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour 7 ounces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
Servings: people
Make the Biga:
  1. Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and looks creamy.
  2. Stir in the flour and mix until it forms a shaggy dough. Turn onto a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  3. Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 4 to 6 hours (or up to 12 hours) at room temperature, or 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Mix, Rest, and Knead the Dough:
  1. Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, whisk by hand to blend, and let the mixture stand until the yeast is activated and looks creamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the biga and the olive oil and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the flour, rosemary, thyme, and salt. Knead the dough on low speed until it comes together in a cohesive mass, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is firm, elastic, and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes.
Proof the Dough (First Rise):
  1. Lightly oil a large tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and lightly coat the surface with a little oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (longer if the room is cold). If you are using a tub, be sure to mark the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of tape so it's easy to tell when the dough has doubled.
Punch Down and Shape the Dough:
  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don't knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape (if this happens, simply cover the dough with plastic wrap or a lint-free cotton towel and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes to give the gluten some time to relax).
  2. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. If you will be using a baking or pizza stone to bake the bread, place the parchment paper and dough on the bottom of the baking sheet so you can slide them easily onto the stone. Press the dough into a large half circle that is about 12 inches across the flat bottom, 11 inches tall at the peak of the circle, and about 3/8 inch thick.
  3. Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a lint-free cotton towel, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. To make the design in the dough, use a very sharp knife to make a slit down the center, then two or three slits at a angle on each side of the center so they resemble veins in a leaf. Each slit should go all the way through the dough to the baking sheet. Gently stretch each slit so the cut edges are about 1 1/2 inches apart, making decorative holes in the dough.
Proof the Dough (Second Rise):
  1. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel. Allow the dough to rise until it is almost doubled in size and looks like it has taken a deep breath, 30 to 40 minutes.
Prepare the Oven:
  1. Place a baking or pizza stone in the oven, if you're using one. Preheat the oven to 425°F. If using a stone, give it a full 30 minutes to an hour to heat.
Bake the Bread:
  1. Dimple the dough by gently pressing your fingertips into the dough about 1/4 inch deep, taking care that you don't deflate the dough by pressing too vigorously or making too many indentations.
  2. Gently brush the surface with olive oil and sprinkle salt and chopped herbs on top.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and the internal temperature registers 200°F. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Fish and Seafood Herbs and Spices Veggies Salads Appetizers Christmas New Years Baking Comfort Food Diets & Real Foods Thanksgiving Cleaning Tips How To
Sort by

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

8 thoughts on “Herbed Fougasse: A French Flat Bread to Remember

  1. Hey, at least the bread came out fine! Looks great! I try to take my food pics in natural light to, but that’s kind of impossible when I’m making dinner at night. Sometimes I’ll use lamps I bought from home depot, it’s like my homemade light kit.

  2. the bread sounds amazing and sweat how the pix turned out, they still looked great. i recently read a great article on taking food pix at night (because like you, it’s pitch black when i get home and sunday is really the only day i can take pix in natural day night). building a light box apparently is really easy. when i figure it out, i’ll let you know!

    also, as for goo in the oven from accidents, i’ve laid down foil on the bottom of the oven for such occurances. makes cleanup so much easier!

  3. I, like Lan, put foil in the bottom of the oven.

    However, as the burn that still uglifies my arm can attest, you really should make sure that the heating element on the bottom of the oven is not still hot when putting your arm underneath it, flattening out the foil. Just a tip . . .

    The bread looks good! So glad the smoke didn’t do too much damage. How scary!

  4. It’s all about natural light! And it’s also all about PhotoShop! Your photos look great, they just need a little boost in PhotoShop! Thanks for link, btw!

  5. MC and Lan: I see we’re all in on this together. Using some info Lan sent me today, I’m going to experiment a little with shooting at night. Fingers crossed!

    Duo Dishes: You’re very kind!

    Jennifer: I still have a scar on my arm from the time I let the curling iron slip from my hand and onto my skin. It’s one of those things you do ONCE and never again, you know? You and Lan are right about the foil lining–it’s what I *should* be doing. Sigh.

    Danny: Thanks! I don’t have full-time access to Photoshop, but I will see what I can do.

  6. well — it looks delicious 😉 despite the fire!

    and i totally agree, my photo taking always slows down in the winter because of the lack of beautiful light!

  7. mmmmmmmmm! sorry for the scare. 🙁

    I know it’s tough to take photos in the winter if you love natural light but you can still get it! trust me. and, if it’s not the magic hour then get yourself a flash and bounce it off the ceiling or a wall. it works too and it’s not as harsh and the direct flash.

Leave a Comment